Preservation Notes: MUD

It takes a small army of very dedicated people to preserve the Old Naval Hospital. But, we have a lot of fun doing it – and find ourselves talking about topics that could be considered a little out of the ordinary. So we’re launching a series of Preservation Notes to bring you behind the scenes of our efforts to maintain this Civil War-era beauty.

We begin the series by getting right to the nitty-gritty. Our subject today is…


One of Hill Center’s loveliest attractions has been its broad east lawn. Graced by gardens and shade trees, it’s a popular site for weddings, reunions and other events, and in our promotional materials you see it pictured in glowing green with frolicking children.

The problem is this lawn has been loved and frolicked upon so much that in recent years it’s regularly degenerated into a muddy, unusable mess.
This has led to a series of re-seedings and re-soddings, but until a couple of months ago, none of these remedial steps seemed to “take.” Something about the landscaping and the soil itself was keeping the area from draining and drying out and the destruction kept recurring.

So, this spring, we finally had to bite the bullet, open the checkbook and bring in trained professionals to dig up the east lawn, regrade it, and carve out a system of trenches to be filled primarily with sand. They also seeded the area with thousands of earthworms, who’ve been assigned the task of keeping things porous and permeable.

And today our east lawn is looking again like it does in the publicity photos, with a far better chance of remaining that way. The bad news: This unanticipated project cost more than $15,000.
It’s the kind of “surprise” that Hill Center’s Preservation Endowment was established to absorb, and with a historic property like ours, such challenges truly run the gamut. Your donated dollars sometimes restore stone or ironwork or upgrade a performance space’s acoustics. Sometimes the problem is mud.

If you’d like to support the Preservation Endowment and our efforts to keep the Old Naval Hospital available for generations to come, donate online here.

Back To Top


    Sign up for the chance to win a $75 gift certificate for our programs, galleries, or space rentals!

    By submitting this form, you are granting: Old Naval Hospital Foundation - Hill Center,, Washington, District of Columbia, 20003, United States, permission to email you.